"GM Canola will be everywhere" (28/11/2007)

1.There's abundant evidence to warn people against GE crops
2.'GM Canola will be everywhere and that is inevitable' - expert


1.There's abundant evidence to warn people against GE crops
Sydney Morning herald, November 28 2007

Announcements in Victoria and NSW that genetically engineered (GE) crops will be allowed threaten more than just the income of Australia's farmers and food companies. There is irrefutable evidence that GE foods are unsafe to eat.

Working with more than 30 scientists worldwide, I documented 65 health risks of GE foods. There are thousands of toxic or allergic-type reactions in humans, thousands of sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ and system studied in lab animals. Government safety assessments, including those of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), do not identify many of the dangers, and analysis reveals that industry studies submitted to FSANZ are designed to avoid finding them.

The process of inserting a foreign gene into a plant cell and cloning that cell into a GE crop produces hundreds of thousands of mutations throughout the DNA. Natural plant genes may be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds can change their function. This is why GE soy has less protein, an unexpected new allergen and up to seven times higher levels of a known soy allergen.

The only human feeding study conducted on GE foods found genes had transferred into the DNA of gut bacteria and remained functional. This means that long after we stop eating a GE food, its protein may be produced continuously inside our intestines.

Lab animals fed GM crops had altered sperm cells and embryos, a five-fold increase in infant mortality, smaller brains, and a host of other problems.

Documents made public by a lawsuit revealed that scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration warned that gene-spliced foods might lead to allergies, toxins, new diseases and nutritional problems. When 25 per cent of US corn farmers planted GE varieties, corn sales to the European Union dropped by 99.4 per cent. All corn farmers suffered as prices fell by 13 to 20 per cent. In North America a growing number of doctors are prescribing a non-GE diet. Next year, the US natural food industry will remove all remaining GE ingredients.

Consumer buying pressure will likely force the entire food chain in North America to swear off GE within the next two years. Such a tipping point was achieved in Europe in April 1999. Australia should be taking notice of the response to GE foods throughout the world. It is certainly not the time to let the state bans expire.

Jeffrey M. Smith Executive director Institute for Responsible Technology Iowa, USA


2.'GM Canola will be everywhere and that is inevitable'
Press release from GM Free Cymru
28th November 2007

In the light of the decisions in NSW and Victoria (1) to give a 'green light' to the commercial growing of GM canola in those two states, one has to wonder what possible benefits to the consumer or to the farming community the two governments had in mind. No wonder that there is uproar amongst NGOs and consumer groups who have actually done some homework on GM canola and on the matter of coexistence.

Four items which are relevant to the debate in Australia:

1. GM Canola is impossible to contain
2. Contamination thresholds are not based on science
3. GM Canola spread by wild animals
4. Uncontrollable GM Canola Contamination in Japan



Comments made by Dr Jeremy Sweet, then of NIAB [and later part of EFSA] (2), at the GM Science debate held at IGER, Aberystwyth (3) on 17 March 2003.

1. .. 'people who have studied oil seed rape in seed banks have found that you get this persistence of a low level, of about 100 plants per square metre for several years. It could be up to 10 years'.

2. 'We looked at a combine harvester leaving actually a GM rape field, this was in the early days before we got too sensitive about these things. We found 6 kilos of seed in that combine harvester. It then went into a field of barley and harvested the barley, and that barley flushed out the rape seed and it all dropped into the ground. Now if you start doing that repeatedly on the farm you very rapidly start to have oil seed rape spread all around the farm and occurring in seed banks, and it becomes quite difficult to manage'.

3. 'the number of erucic acid crops has always been quite low, and usually fairly well managed and maintained in the production system. I think where the concern arises is that if oil seed rape..if GM oil seed rape becomes very widely grown, becomes say more than 20% or 30% of the area of oil seed rape, then it becomes much more difficult to manage these sorts of things. If you are just talking about a few crops here and there around the country, it is much easier to manage than if you are talking about it becoming a mainstream part of agriculture.'

4. 'we do have to accept the fact that once GM oil seed rape is commercialised it will be everywhere and that is inevitable, because conventional rape is everywhere, there is no reason why its going to behave differently from conventional rape. So once we start growing GM rape it will become as widely dispersed as conventional rape'

5. 'I think realistically it's going to be very difficult for GM oil seed rape to coexist with non-GM on the same farm'



Dr Jeremy Sweet at the same meeting (4):

Well, we have thresholds for varietal purity in seeds, so that a farmer knows that when he buys a batch of seed itís that variety and not another one and also it doesn't contain off types or dead seed or whatever. For GM seed, there was a feeling that a threshold was needed but the reason for it was in fact a political one, because the EU had decided that the product threshold would be 0.9 and if you are going to produce say oil seed rape at 0.9% you have to have seed with a considerably lower level than that to allow for the fact that contamination will occur during the growing of the crop to allow for pollen coming in and seed contamination and so on. So there was a group of us who got together in Brussels and pondered over this, and we came to the conclusion, that, in order to allow enough margin for the farmer to achieve the threshold of 0.9 we would have to set the seed threshold at about 0.3 for oil seed rape, so that allowed him effectively about 0.6 to play around with in growing his crop and that's how we achieved the threshold.

Very unscientific I know but that's basically how we did it, because we were basically worked into a corner. The EU said that 'politically we will set a

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